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Intimate live gig hoped to launch Dingwall debut album

By Margaret Chrystall

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The sound of the 14 tracks on Kenny MacLennan’s debut album lingers and creates a calming invisible space.

Kenny MacLennan has released a new album, The Space Between Darkness And Light. Picture: Allan Trappitt
Kenny MacLennan has released a new album, The Space Between Darkness And Light. Picture: Allan Trappitt

The Dingwall musician with his solo project Westheart had almost all the time in the world to work on his album The Space Between Darkness And Light which features piano, synths, drum sequencers, live and acoustic guitar. Like many musicians and writers, freed by lockdown in 2020, Kenny started to explore the outer reaches of his comfort zone with the extra time he had.

“I couldn’t go out and play music with other people or engage with the guys I normally do for music. So I just had to sit down and write.

“Before that, a few things – life changes – had happened. I’d lost my mum and I had had quite a period there when I had a lot going on and didn’t touch music.”

Kenny talks about Wherever You Are, one of the tracks at the heart of the album.

“When I did come back to music, that was the first song and it seemed to flow out in one, from start to finish. I dedicated that to my mum and all of that came out in the music.”

Trying to write music he wanted to seem simple and uncomplicated, Kenny also took the chance to learn more about recording and producing his own tracks.

“With nobody else to bounce off, it has had its own challenges because you are in your own headspace.

“It has made me sit down and really listen to what I am doing and strip it back. Simplicity and keeping it sparse was a huge part of it.”

But Kenny got a lot of support from finding a place composers shared.

“I engaged on a Discord server with the Icelandic composer Olafur Arnolds who did the soundtrack for the TV series Broadchurch.

“I posted a link and got some good feedback from other composers. It’s a great community and we can ask each other for tips!”

Kenny is also excited that one of his tracks might be picked for one of Olafur’s projects.

He has plans to play his album live, but there is a lot to get right first, he feels.

“I had to not make it too complex.

“I had to record the music, bearing in mind I wanted to perform it live, so I couldn’t go too crazy with it! You can add so many tracks that you would need an orchestra to perform it live! Guitar, bass and synths – it’s been written with that in mind.”

Though there is a dream to perform it with a small orchestra some day, Kenny said: “I would probably want to do some intimate concerts and bring in the guys I have been playing with for years. Tom McKee on drums, Gordon MacRae on guitar, Paul Wayman on bass.

“It’s always good to change things when it’s live, you could do something different. But it would be nice to have it as close to the music that’s there as possible.”

A birthday event at Tulloch Castle in Dingwall saw Kenny play with previous bands, including Raining Stairs – and Dysney Moon reforming.

“We just did a concert with friends and family. It was fantastic. That is a great room. A little seated concert there would be perfect.”

For the moment The Space Between Darkness And Light is a digital release.

“It will be on all the streaming platforms, then I’m going to look at doing a limited number of CDs later in the year.

“I’d like to do it because people are already saying ‘I’d like a hard copy of it so I can have something I can keep!’.”

Kenny MacLennan's solo project Westheart.
Kenny MacLennan's solo project Westheart.

Now the album is finished, Kenny has plans for more music.

“The next thing I am putting out is an EP which will be a bit more up-tempo, but it is still electronica-based.

“Hopefully now that I have learned so much more, the process should be smoother.

“This album is the first time I’ve recorded, mixed and produced the whole thing myself.

“And it has probably been a coming of age for me!”

The Space Between Darkness And Light by Westheart is out on Monday, October 23, on Spotify, Apple Music etc. The artwork on the album is by local artist Scott Mackay, photography by Allan Trappitt.

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